© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
PHILADELPHIA -- Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies still haven't reached their
payroll threshold, even with the signing of free-agent third baseman Pedro Feliz to a two-year, $8.5
They still have some wiggle room, possibly for a pitcher.
"We have a budget and a responsibility to that budget," Amaro said Thursday, as his team
introduced Feliz to Philadelphia.
The Phillies have $88.35 million of their expected $105 million to $110 million
budget committed to 18 players, included $5.5 million owed to Jim Thome. That amount will
head north of $100 million when the salaries of Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Chris
Coste, Carlos Ruiz, Eric Bruntlett, Greg Dobbs, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick are added in.
Wes Helms and possibly Chris Snelling might come off the books if they're traded, though those
salaries may be absorbed by the two yet-to-be-determined bullpen spots.
This doesn't mean the Phillies are plotting a counter move to New York's stunning
acquisition of Johan Santana -- arguably the game's best pitcher -- even if one were
"There's no question he's going to help that club," Amaro said. "He's one of the
better pitchers in the game. We can't worry about what other clubs are doing around us.
We have to concentrate on our club and how we can improve it."
Re-siging free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse remains a slight possibility, at best, and luring fellow free agent Livan Hernandez even less
so. Amaro said the Phillies will take a second look at Kris Benson, who is scheduled to
throw for interested teams in Atlanta on Tuesday.
The Phillies weren't impressed with Benson's first session, earlier this month in Arizona. The
righty missed the 2007 season recovering from right shoulder surgery, and is willing to
accept a one-year, incentive-laden deal.
"He wasn't really cutting it loose [the first time]," Amaro said. "It will be
interesting to see how he's coming along."
Phils ink first European player:
The Phillies extended their reach to Europe on
Thursday, signing 17-year-old Czech infielder Jakub Sladek.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound lefty is a native of Prague and attends Gymnazium Nad
"Jakub has a physical presence about him and a left-handed bat that has a chance
to be an offensive threat," scouting director Marti Wolever said. "He's surprisingly
athletic for his size. He has a lot of upside, and at 17 years old, he has plenty of room
The Phillies also signed Todd Van Steensel, a native of Sydney, Australia. Van
Steensel, also 17, is a right-handed pitcher out of The Hills Sports High School.